Thursday, January 14, 2010

By the Skin of Its…..Head

We have another Bald Eagle in and it's an eagle that is VERY lucky. And why is that you might ask? Because it flew into a power line! Yes, this eagle may not have nine lives, but it obviously has at least two!

Being an adult, it is pretty sketchy around people, so this first pic I took was through the window looking into the Indoor mew, hence the reflectiveness of the photo. It was also mid-feed, hence the feather in its beak. As you can see, it has wounds on its head and on its beak/nare area. It was missing feathers on the top of its head and in their place were 1st and 2nd degree burns. It was given an anti-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication for pain and a mild anti-bacterial/antiseptic cream was put on its head. Obviously, the pain and discomfort have had no effect on its appetite!

After the wounds on the head healed....

...we waited a bit more to make sure the nare wounds were healing and weren't going to be an issue when we placed it outside.

But after being inside for almost a month, outside it went into the Heron Cage.... it could start building up those flight muscles again. After a few weeks in there, and after the then-current-resident of the Eagle Flight Cage was released, in it went, to the final stage before release.

Hey! Learning how to land on a rope perch is IS!

Owls....who doesn't love them? Yes, that was rhetorical. This cutie of a Western Screech owl came to us from nearby Lopez island. Seems like it did a face plant into a car and was subsequently found sitting in the middle of the road.

When he first arrived he held his left eye shut, but by the time Saturday rolled around it was open. But, as you can see, it is still more dilated, and squinty, than its right eye. He, too, was given an anti-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication for pain and swelling.

When he was eating on his own for awhile and his eye was better, he was moved outside to a small mew.

He didn't do so well the first time out. He actually stopped eating. Getting any animal ready to be released is always a gradual process and they will let you know if they aren't ready for that next step. So back inside he came for a few days. When he went back out again, we placed him in one of the aviaries, where it was a little bit darker and not so exposed to the weather.

When I went out to check on him in Aviary 3, I just peeked through the left-side feed door. It's less intrusive that way and there pretty much isn't any area you can't see by looking in one feed door or the other. Hmmm....where is he? I couldn't see him anywhere. I then put my camera through the opening and viewed as much of the aviary as I could via the camera's Live View screen. Still nothin'. I have to say, that's when I started getting a wee bit nervous. So over to the right feed door I went. I STILL couldn't see him. That's when I started my plea..."Please don't be dead...please!" Finally I put my camera in, looked all around again, and then turned it straight up and back to the corner right above the feed door and saw this glaring down at me:

Whew! He has since been released!

Our rehabber Penny was flying solo last Sunday, so I told her to feel free to call me if she needed help with anything and she actually took me up on my offer! She called me at 10am saying that she was getting a hawk in and she could use my help with the exam, so in I went.

It ended up being a Red-tailed hawk and gads..what a MESS it was!

Its a youngster, either this year's or last, and it came in with both eyes crusted shut and white cheesy-looking stuff in its mouth and plugging up its nostrils. When Penny checked its chest muscles to see how thin it was, she looked at me and said "It's still pretty well fleshed!?" I immediately asked how that could possibly be, as it had to have been down for awhile. She had no idea. So then we started wondering what we were dealing with that could cause these types of symptoms in what appeared to be a relatively short amount of time. Even with everything that was wrong with it, it was still upright, so that was a good thing. So, after Penny cleaned up his eyes as much as she could and then added ointment to them, she cleaned out its mouth and nares and took samples of this stuff and proceeded to walk me through the process of making culture slides.

First she spread a thin layer of the cheesy stuff on 3 separate slides and "fixed" the stuff to the slides by applying a flame to the underside of the slide. Then each slide went through a series of...

...stain cycles with rinsing of the slided in between each stage. Each different colored stain will color different part of cells to highlight them. Then we set them on end to dry.

After they are done drying, you slap them in the microscope and hope you have,, between the 3 slides, an answer as to what is affecting the hawk and therefore what is needed to treat it. Boy did we ever luck out! Behold!

Penny was able to take this picture of a fungal remnant through one of the eye pieces. So she immediately decided to start it on oral anti-fungal medication.

He was still doing well the next morning and was alert when she checked on him at Noon. But when she went in at 2pm, he had died. It's a bit harder to take when they are upright and seem alert and then they literally drop, versus when they act sick and you have a feeling they may be on their way out. To paraphrase Penny after she found him dead: Losing patients sucks most times. I'll second that.

To end this posting on a MUCH brighter note, do you all remember this beauty?

This juvie Trumpeter swan came in over a year ago, in November 2008. If you recall, she was found by her lonesome. Her family had flown away and left her by herself, which is tough, as they remain with their parents until full grown. So she came to us and we kept her for a few months, but the longer we kept her, the more things kept popping up, like her knee swelling.

The problem was, by late February/early March, the swans would start migrating again and we desperately wanted to try and get her back out in the wild with any group of swans so that she could hopefully fly off with them. So once her swollen knee calmed down a bit it was decided to get her back out on the water, which would also take the weight off of her legs and give them time to heal the rest of the way.

So she and I took a road trip northwards to a wildlife area that had a MASSIVE lake on it. A lake where we were assured that there were still swans there on a daily basis.

So she got a leg band and a neck band of sorts, courtesy of Brad Otto from the local Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.

It was made of very light weight plastic, and its big letters/numbers allows a wildlife biologist to read the band from afar.

The she was released....

...and she actually caught air for a bit!

Considering how long she had been with us....about 4 months...this was a great sign! But I also remember thinking, as much as Brad said we would get updates when and if she was spotted, that we would probably never hear about her again.

Well, imagine my surprise when I went into Wolf Hollow a few weeks back and was told she had been spotted on Fir Island, which is south of us. Yep, she's alive and doing great! Woohoo!

Til next time...


Petula Darling said...

I'm glad you share the sad stories, but I'm even gladder you ended on a happy note!
Your blog is great - I found it last month and read through every one of your posts. Thanks for taking the time to do it!

Shannon said...

I love when you do updates!

Kari said...

I remember Joni, from Seattle wild bird clinic, telling me that she switched to doing strictly birds because if they weren't going to make it, they went fairly quickly, and you didn't have too much time to get attached to them. But either way, it sucks losing them that way. But yeah for the swan! :)

Ann said...

Thank you for the update....the pictures look great. I always learn so much from your posts!